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Knits in Tardis
3.0 out of 5 starsPotential to be a true "general manual" for novice bloggers - but it's not there *yet*.
Reviewed in the United States on 16 May 2012
Early on in "Bloggers Boot Camp", there's some expansion on the notion that you have to be genuinely passionate about the subject of a blog if you expect to make a success of it. Of course, the same goes for books. I'd say after reading that Charlie White and John Biggs, as authors here, are passionate about their work and about sharing their knowledge with aspiring bloggers, but also that this is not entirely enough to make a success of a book that is being marketed to a far more general blogger audience than "technophiles who have moved from traditional journalism venues to blogging".
I found a lot worth reading in this book, even though my interest at present runs more toward hobbyist blogging, where hints on how to handle a press junket or how to protect a confidential source are a bit less likely to be germane. Where the authors did command my attention was the "nuts and bolts" department. "Bloggers Boot Camp" offers one of the most concise and newbie accessible --but useful! -- overviews of the business side of blogging, that I've ever seen . I'd recommend the chapter entitled "Building Traffic, Making Money, and Measuring Success" to anyone with even the haziest notion of one day turning a blogging avocation into a profitable business.
There are other parts of this book where coverage seems skimpy or even incorrect. A chapter on ethics covers "Cease and Desist" letters - the bane of bloggers everywhere - in such a way as might leave the blogging novice under the impression that such letters are generated mainly in cases where libel or slander is at issue, when in truth the reasons (pretence?) cited often for issuance of a C&D are varied, and include "unauthorized use of copyrighted materials", or alleged misuse of another's trademark, such as in recent years when one prominent knitting author and a number of knitting blogs and guilds came afoul of a small New York retailer who claimed copyright on the phrase "Stitch 'N Bitch". (That fight started around 2006, and I believe it is still in the courts!)
"As a rule of thumb," the authors share, "do not remove anything you have written, unless it has been proven false and potentially damaging by an impartial third party, usually a court." That advice may be all well and good for larger/professional blogging ventures or for hearty souls willing to bear some risk, possibly even defend such matters "in pro se", but as directed toward hobbyist and "one man show" blogs, C&D's work for one reason: it's costly to defend against an entity that is willing to go to some expense to "persuade" you remove your content. Even if you win, you can lose.
I also question the blithe recommendation of GoDaddy.com as a DNS server choice. This advice coming from tech bloggers, no less! The authors indirectly acknowledge GoDaddy's infamous support of the controversial online piracy bill known as SOPA, and the boycott that resulted this last December. Still, there's no hint here that an aspiring blogger with, for example, a politically attuned target readership - let's say similar to the readership of slashdot.org -- just might want to know a bit more specifically *why* GoDaddy is on the outs with much of the blogosphere, and glean some perspective on how an affiliation with GoDaddy might be viewed by prospective readers. This is extraneous/meta /"inside baseball" stuff by some reckonings, perhaps, but also potentially critical context for someone new to the world of blogging.
I'm left with the impression that the authors are passionate about what they do, yes, but not quite so much about blogging matters outside of their particular wheelhouse(s). Depth of experience, while invaluable, has places where it cannot entirely compensate for lack of breadth. If there are future editions of "Bloggers Boot Camp", I'd love to see the authors call on top bloggers from outside of their particular areas of expertise to share their insights.
3.0 out of 5 starsSome guidelines for blogging novices, but not everything applies
Reviewed in the United States on 18 April 2012
I'm of the belief that the best individual bloggers (on their own, not on a big site, etc.) do well by virtue of having created content (subject matter and writing style and presentation) that resonates with a particular audience. Many of the most "successful" (and the definitions vary, but we're talking here about sheer numbers of followers/readers) succeed without knowing (or caring about) the nuts-and-bolts stuff (SEO, ads, monetizing, etc.).
They learn by (often painful) trial-and-error and seem to have an aptitude for sharing in a way that resonates with certain people. You can't teach that skill, you can only help someone with real talent hone it and develop it.
So I guess I believe the only thing one could learn in a "bloggers boot camp" book is the nuts-and-bolts of things like analytics, ads, and other "tech" or sales aspects of growing a blog and a brand. But these days, there is plenty of stuff online about all the how-tos in these areas. Stuff that is updated daily and is, perhaps, more accurate and relevant than what the authors present here.
I don't think a bloggers boot camp can teach you to write, how to create content, how to choose subject matter or how to get a writing style. Things that are crucial.
So if you pick up this book, don't expect it to help you with those things.
This book seems aimed at folks who are interested in starting a blog but may have spent little to no time online actually reading blogs (as a consumer) and/or reading about how they are started and maintained.
And if you know nothing about blogs, and blogging, you may make the mistake of taking everything that is written here as "the truth" and the way it MUST be. As anyone working online knows today, everything changes all the time and there really are no set rules (even the idea of posting several times a day isn't accurate, depending on your blog and audience.)for every situation. It's far more fluid (and it really is all about how you want to "converse" with your audience and your deciding what rules apply and being upfront about them. Some of the most independent bloggers, for example, take free products for review. They disclose it and because their readers hold them accountable, give reviews that are clearly NOT based on getting the stuff for free. And many terrific blogs have relevant ads and participate in various manufacturer-sponsored promos and such.
EVERYONE is feeling their way thru it. And growing and changing in the process.
I think the authors were perhaps too ambitious in trying to cover so much in terms of topics. You could write whole books on things like SEO (which people have done), libel issues, ethics, etc. A few paragraphs or pages can't begin to get into the complexities of such topics.
If you're starting out, this book provides an outline of topics to learn a lot more about (and to get the opinions of folks with more diverse experience in contemporary blogging than these authors' have) and an idea of other things to consider when creating and running a blog.
It's a starting point, but by no means a definitive primer or guidebook. The best way to understand what and how blogging works is to read the top blogs in various fields you're interested in. See how the information is presented and how the various blogs are maintained and promoted. In many cases, these bloggers have been interviewed elsewhere and offer great tips on every aspect of blogging.
I honestly acknowledge and conceed that White and Biggs offer here great advice, and plenty of it, along with tips to keep you up and going. Also many important aspects are pointed out from grammatic errors to legal hastles like slander, etc., and on through RSS feds, etc.
Reading this book was interesting, insightful, and, I am sure that to most people it would be a great "boost up" to get yourself up and running as a blogger. However, personally, I cannot imagine how I could keep up, daily (or nearly so) without becoming a "mute" so to speak (as I call it), meaning I run out of "something to say" leaving my readers without anything to read and thus losing them.
I am sure this is a personal problem of mine and that you very well would not feel this or be bothered by it. Perhaps I have not thought of the perfect blog idea for "me" to be writing yet, I don't know. I just feel like I could not possibly keep something going at this level for an extended time.
For those who "can" do this, I would heartily recommend this (what I would consider to be) comprehensive, well thought out, textbook to getting yourself "in the know" of producing and presenting a blog on a regular basis. I wish you the very best of luck in your venture, and, of course, keep telling myself that I too "can" do it and that the right thing has just not come to me yet!
You can't become successful in blogging by buying this book, but you probably can't be successful without it, either.
What's going on here? A cutesy title and a tarted up cover. Essentially a catchy come on. That's my issue with this book. There's some good background information on conceiving, building and running a blog. But, there's a bit too much emphasis on the catchy and the cute. Still, the authors do have some real world experience in this new media, so the book cannot be totally dismissed as useless.
But, here's the real deal. You must have something to impart that's authentic, interesting, and of some value to a reasonable number of readers. And, you have to be able to do that over and over again. Remember, your blog, any blog, can be dismissed in milliseconds with a single click of the mouse.
That's not to say that there are not plenty of niches left to blog about and to possibly make a few dollars in the process. But, your success or failure will hinge on your ability to focus and communicate clearly, not on clever gimmicks or computer wizardry.
If you can amuse, enlighten, or empower your readers, they will come back for more, and make you some money in the process. Otherwise, you'll just be yesterday's news.
3.0 out of 5 starsOnly if your goal is to be a professional full-time "blogger"
Reviewed in the United States on 25 April 2012
Maybe I was expecting the information to be more general, but I didn't find this book to be as relevant as I wanted it to be. It's targeted to those wanting to be on the cutting edge of blog journalism, and certainly not appropriate for everyone with a blog.
I have a local photography business, and, like many other small business owners, like to stay in contact with clients (and reach potential clients) with it. This book didn't help me with that much, although there are relevant tips and tricks scattered throughout (on writing good blog posts, knowing your audience, etc). But the book isn't written for me, or others wanting to maintain a blog as a social media marketing tool (and certainly not for someone using a blog as anything resembling a journal).
It's more for people wanting to establish a blog empire and spend hours a day with news aggregators and writing multiple posts just so they can become one of the many online sources providing constant commentary on societal happenings within their own particular niche. If that's you, the book is pretty good, and would be useful. If you want to use a blog in a different way (perhaps posting [*GASP!*] less than every day without fail), I'd probably suggest you look to another source.
3.0 out of 5 starsWarning: for beginning bloggers only.
Reviewed in the United States on 16 April 2012
The title of my review says it all - if you're just starting out in the world of blogging, than I suppose this book would be a good resource for you. The important thing to remember if you ARE a beginning blogger and DO purchase this book is to take what the authors say with a grain of salt (or ten). They focus a lot on the very basic nuts and bolts of how to start a blog - which platform to choose, what to write about, when/how often to write, etc. Some of the information is good; some of it is outright incorrect. For example, their "rule" that you should Always Be Blogging - they say that you should post every day, if not several times a day, but with the blog world saturated the way it is now I can safely say that blogs like that appear bloated and fake and rarely become successful in the way of subscribers/commenters/regular readers.
Personally, I've been blogging publicly since the fall of 2009 and I can safely say that much of the information given in this book is easy to find *for free* online. (Google is your best friend, folks.) I don't even count myself as a "super successful blogger", either, because in the end you can follow all the hints/tips/suggestions/"rules" that are thrown at you by popular bloggers and if you don't have the proper focus or the right look or personality, you simply won't end up with thousands of followers.
To be completely honest, I think that a lot of the "rules" and information contained in this book is/are outdated and do not really apply to the blogging world of today. I think the authors should have done a little research into current successful independent bloggers and asked their advice as well, rather than relying only on their own experience regarding how they became successful bloggers a decade ago or more.
Bloggers Boot Camp by White and Biggs will do well for those people just starting a blog or those who are thinking of starting a blog. In my case, I just started a blog last year, and it helped me to identify some of the things that I've done wrong over the last year.
Some of the elements of this book like photo blogging and group blogging work better for some blogs than others. The authors' advice in on photo and video blogging seem better suited for tech or fashion bloggers, rather than the political blog I have.
The authors have written a book that often seems focused on high tech bloggers like themselves.
Overall though, it's practical and readable and the book is divided into sections allowing the reader to skip sections that don't apply.
For those seeking to start a successful blog this book is a good place to start. It contains good information and a basic blueprint for disciplining yourself to write daily and realize blogging is not just a quick road to riches. The only discrepancy I have with the authors recommendations is I recommend avoiding searches like those available on Godaddy.com. I lost out on my domain name by searching for it there first- waited and it was purchased by someone just for the intent to resell it. The experts at SBI ( site build it) go into great technical detail about which sites are safe to search on and other pitfalls to avoid. I recommend SBI over standard blogging as the success rate for their sites is higher but you could win the lottery and come up with a financially solvent blog if luck is in your favor.
As a long time Blogger, I was excited that this book would give me something new to get me beyond my current plateau of readership. If I was just starting a blog, this book would have been very helpful. (Though the information is pretty dated, so I wonder if they'll update it annually. It is pertinent now, but in a year, I'm not sure it'll be so helpful.) Most of what I read in this book were things I already do or already know. Some were things that I'm just not going to be able to implement, since my blog is old and already has a pretty set system.
And I found it extremely funny that they say not to accept free products for review when I got this book free for review! Ha! Funny, funny.
If you are just starting a blog, then pick up this book. If you already have a blog, well, this book isn't going to be very helpful. Well, it isn't going to be very helpful if you are a Mom blogger. If you're a technical blogger or news blogger, then you'll get more out of this book.
3.0 out of 5 starsgood, but not great advice for bloggers
Reviewed in the United States on 28 June 2012
This book offers good general advice for bloggers, but it's not really great advice. If you have never blogged before there is some general advice here and if you are blogging in the tech market then this book is probably more helpful. However if you are blogging about life or another market the advice they offer isn't that great.
The truth is that the blogging world is very diverse and some of the standards that they share (such as 1000 word posts) aren't as standard as they would seem.
If you are starting a blog this book is helpful but you probably need to also grab some other blogging books or at least tune in to some blogs about blogging.